OT: WAY OT - I'm Grumpy, Therefore I Blog

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A friend of mine is a professional photographer and he also has an enormous collection of documentary-type pictures he's shot over the years for his own pleasure. His formula was always the same Tr-X pushed to 600, from a bulk loader and a Leica and a Nikon always fully loaded, ready to go. He'd reach for one or the other, depending which one was handy, had whatever lens on it, etc. He has a pile of 8x10 , all the same paper, I'd hazard a guess, of about 200 pictures he favours.
One day, back in early 1980, another friend and I were visiting there, and somehow, we got talking about being able to tell the difference between the Leica and the Nikon images. My buddy has absolutely no experience in anything like photography, and yet, when he went through the pile, he was right, better than 75% of the time, which was a Leica shot, and which was a Nikon shot. Both my photographer friend and I were totally blown away by that. We think it was high-light detail, or something odd in the dynamic range in the high-lights...
Having said that, my little 885 Nikon ( 3MP) does better in some subject matter than my H2 Sony at 6 MP.
But nothing comes close the a 85mm f2.8 German made Zeiss I had on a Contax for insane dynamic range or sharpness... other than the same type on a 'Blad.... just an opinion. For a 50mm lens, the Leica was better, IMHO. especially at low light.
This is the photog I'm talking about:
http://www.ianmaceachern.com/index.html
r
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Robatoy wrote:

Leica's have an especially beautiful out-of-focus look when you are ouside the limits of depth-of-field. The Japanese call this "bokah". They also have tack sharp optics and great contrast. I hand an old Leica IIIf with a 50mm f/3.5 collapsable uncoated Elmar. The thing shot fantastic pictures, even in color. I regret having ever gotten rid of it.

I have a HB 501C/M with several lenses. All of them, the 40 Distagon, 60mm Distagon, 80mm Planar, and 180mm Sonnar are excruciatingly sharp and contrasty. The only 'Blad lens I ever used that was soft was the 250mm Sonnar. That said, negative size still matters more than anything. I have a bag full of lenses for my 4x5 - a couple of which are the old Artars with nowhere near the sophistication of optics and coatings of the 'Blads. But an image shot through an Artar onto 4x5 is noticeably sharper and crisper than one shot with the 'Blad. (And either are light years better than a 35mm.)
The interesting thing is that medium/large format lenses get away with *less* resolving power than the lenses used on 35mm cameras (and by extension, digital SLRs since they share lens families with their film body counterparts). If you don't care why this is, feel free to hang up now. Otherwise ....
THE MATH ======= Resolution is measured in Line Pairs Per Millimeter (LPM). To some degree, what we perceive as "sharpness" is a matter of human perception. There is no magic number at which things are absolutely "sharp" just what we perceive things to be. This depends, in turn, on the optical system which produced the image, AND the conditions underwhich we view the image, AND the distance at which we view the image, AND other factors such as contrast range evident in the final image - We typically see higher contrast images as "sharper" even though they don't actually measure that way. You can also resort to clever techniques like Unsharp Masking to produce locally sharper edges in the detail which makes the whole print seem much sharper than it actually (as measured) is.
In the end, what ultimately matters is the resolution in LPM present in the final medium, say a print. For an 8x10 print, the general consensus seems to be that the print has to resolve 8 LPM or so. Now then, what ends up on the print (all other things being constant) is equal to the resolution of the optical system which produced the negative (film, camera, lens, and processing) DIVIDED by the magnification ratio needed to produce the image at the desired size. (I'm ignoring the resolving power of the enlarging system here. It is relevant in the sense that the final print will be no better than the weakest link in the chain.)
To make an 8x10 print, you have magnify a 35mm negative about 7x. To make the same print from a Hassy neg, you need a magnification ratio just over 4x.
Let's pretend the camera, film, and development are lossless (perfect) and that final resolution in the negative is entirely dependent on the resolving power of the lens. This is a pretty reasonable assumption for most practical situations, BTW. To get 8 LPM in our final print we need:
8 * 7 = 56 LPM resolution for the 35mm system's lens 8 * 4 = 32 LPM resolution for the Hassy system's lens
These numbers are well within the capabilities of both systems which is why you can use even a lowly 35mm camera to make beautiful 8x10s.
THE POINT ======== Because MF and LF cameras produce negs which need LESS magnification to produce a given image size than an equivalent 35mm neg, these larger formats can use lenses with LESS absolute resolving power to produce the same "sharpness" results in the final print. Manufacturers like Hassy know this (they employ one or two optical experts, I suspect ;) and save weight and cost by not building in unnecessary optical perfection in their lenses.
If you take a 35mm "chunk" out of a Hassy neg (and magnify it to 8x10, you may have LESS final resolution in the print than the 35mm equivalent because you are now magnifying things 7x with a lens that has less resolving power. To be more specific:
32 LPM (Hassy Lens) / 7x = 4.6 LPM in the final print
This will look less sharp than the 8 LPM we produced in the 35mm-derived print.
However, this is a little silly. Why spend all that money for an MF and treat it like an overweight 35mm point-n-shoot?
You really start to see the advantage in MF when you make large prints. Suppose you want a 16x20 - that's 14x for 35mm and 8x for Hassy:
35mm case: 8 * 14 = 112 LPM required lens resolution Hassy case: 8 * 8 = 64 LPM required lens resolution
64 LPM resolution is again typically within the range for a good MF lens, but 112 LPM is doubtful for even the most prestigious 35mm lenses. This is why you cannot get as apparently sharp large prints from your Leica - In other words, there ain't no substitute for square inches! If you make 20 x 24 prints you REALLY see the tiny negative's limitations. I am also ignoring other factors like the superior tonal rendering of a larger negative (it has more "bits" of information than the smaller negative). In actual fact, for a high resolution film/developer combination, the larger negs will produce consistently better prints even at 8 x 10.
To a certain extent, I've overstated things. When you view larger prints, you tend to stand further away from them - this allows you to get away with less final LPMs in the print because you are not viewing image detail as closely. That's why it is possible to produce acceptably sharp 16x20s from a Nikon because you're standing 4 or 5 feet away from the print. Even so, this is a losing game. If you want large, "sharp" prints you need large "sharp" negatives. Incidentally, this applies with equal validity to images produced digitally - the medium of information recording does not affect the laws of physics and human cognition.
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I have seen a billboard from a 35mm Kodachrome which looked just fine from the highway. The frame was even cropped a bit. For the same reason, my 20-year old 28" Sony XBR Trinitron looks fabulously sharp from across the office, where it hovers above both my 23" Sony computer monitors. It is about 12 feet away, and appears to be the same size as a quarter of my either of my computer monitors. I treat it like a window which floats in space and has a WAY better resolution (appears to have) than either of my Sony SDM 234's which are no slouches.
About pixel density. I'm sure you have read some of this guy's stuff on pixel density?
http://6mpixel.org/en /
r
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Junkie
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Upscale wrote:

It is wrong?
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Tim Daneliuk snipped-for-privacy@tundraware.com
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IIRC, Wikipedia.

I use a backlit viewer to view them myself and project them for others.

The slides can be digitized, then printed. As you note, much is lost when printing, so if you MUST make a print, the losses associated with digitizing the slide are not significant.
The result is at least as good as a image that was digital straight out of a camera.
The last time I talked with a National Geographic photographer was in McCarthy, Alaska in June of 1993. He and all of his colleagues relied almost exclusively on Fujichrome, pull- processed. ISTR they all used Nikons too. I fell into a meltpond with my N 8008s and had to go back to using my Nikkormat for a day or so. He remarked that the electronic cameras sometimes survived fresh water, but never salt water. Mine recovered after a day or so.

I'll buy that, if you work with consumer targetted print films like the Kodacolor series.. I gave up on print films a long time ago.

I'm doubtful that many who make their living by taking pictures (which I daresay is the most common definition of 'pro') are using cameras that cost less than $2k.

I suggest that it is an excellent reference point because it is all that I use.

Does 'raw' format give you the actual data numbers read off of the chip? Can you also get a dark current? (data numbers in complete darkness) If so, the camera can be used for photometry, which I would like.

My shooting partner has the Canon. I'll be buying one soon.
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Fred the Red Shirt wrote: <SNIP>

I'm not sure, and I believe it varies somewhat by manufacturer, each of whom has their own raw standard. I do know that Adobe is promoting a standardized "Digital Negative" raw format and trying to get the hardware manufacturers onboard. You might look into that.

My next experiment is going to be to figure out a way to mount the DSLR body on the back of my 4x5 field camera. There are such adapters made for Canon, at least for some of the full blown view cameras, but I'd like to play with the combination at my disposal...
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"Tim Daneliuk"

Agreed. I bought a D40X this past summer and it's completely exceeded my needs and expectations for everything I want to do. It's my second digital camera, much improved over the first one which was a 1 megapixel camera. As my best friend describes the Nikon, "it's a fun camera". In fact we're both so satisfied with what it can do that neither of us have yet to take it out of auto mode. Maybe I bought more camera than I really need, but if the time comes I'm pretty sure all the expanded capabilities I'll need will be there.
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Photography was a serious hobby for me for most of my life. The processing, the frugal aspect of framing a shot, the whole ritual of mixing the chemicals, the discussions amongst friends about the colour integrity of the old Ektachrome (light reversal) or new stuff E-4 (chemical reversal) yadda, yadda, yadda. Kodachrome 25. CPS 4x5 plates which I processed myself. Cibachrome was grossly expensive.
Then I dragged along a little Nikon 885, just for fun, and realized I was tired of dragging along a bag of lenses and managed to get a very good price for my Contax system. (Kept an M4 and a Nikkormat for a while) unloaded my Graflex and rubber tanks, enlargers etc.
The buzz of opening a new box of Ilford paper, has long since left me.
Now it's an H2 Sony with a Zeiss (as if) and I'm watching closely for a credible SLR. I toss the Sony in a side pocket of the truck, $300 to replace it, I no longer sweat the knowledge of a bag full of German Zeiss on my shoulder.
My digital in on 'auto' 95% of the time. I have become a tourist.... and "GET OFF MY LAWN!!!" r
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My digital in on 'auto' 95% of the time. I have become a tourist.... and "GET OFF MY LAWN!!!"
I understand completely. I had a Nikon FE before the 1mp camera. This relatively new D40X gives me speed, the 4 gig SD card holds hundreds if not thousands of zero cost high resolution images and the autofocusing 70-200mm lens enables foolproof focusing. I'm almost ashamed to admit that low cost, ease and of use really decent imaging has eclipsed all other considerations.
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Upscale wrote:

I dunno if the D40 has this feature, but the D80 has a really nifty option. You can set the camera in Program mode so that it makes most of the decisions for you. BUT, if you don't like the shutter speed/f-stop combo it selects, you can rotate a thumbwheel while still in P mode, and pick a different combo more to your choosing. This avoids having to go into Aperture- or Shutter- priority mode to get a particular setting where you like it.
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The D40X has that thumbwheel, can't speak for the D40, but it's supposed to be identical to the D40X aside from it being capable of a max 6mbit pixels. Also noticed in your last message that you used the D80 as the boundary for raw format images. The D40x which is one less on the scale also will save in raw format. I'm guessing the D40 will also do the same thing.
Bought the D40X last summer and it appears that it's being phased out already. The camera store I bought it from doesn't stock it anymore. Things sure change fast in the digital world.
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I want to get my granddaughter a digital camera when she graduated from 8th grade. Do you think this one will be OK for her? http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/shop/6222/SLR+Digital+Cameras.html/atl/Brand_Hasselblad~Price_+33995+%3C=+100000/sortDrop/Price:+Low+to+High
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Too heavy. Try the new top of the line Canon...and the body is only 8K.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/shop/6222/SLR+Digital+Cameras.html/atl/Brand_Hasselblad~Price_+33995+%3C=+100000/sortDrop/Price:+Low+to+High Dunno--how is she about losing stuff?
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You don't 'buy' 'Blads, Ed.. you lease them.
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That was last year. But, then, I guess you're right when you state "consumer grade."
There are probably a dozen DSLRs out there now that will match resolution with a 35mm using most films. As an incidental point, how many people shoot KX64 these days? When I was still shooting 35mm, my editors were delighted to get transparencies with an ISO of 200.
You''re right about the DR. I figure another 2-3 years there.
Actually, the reasons for digital photography DO include quality of photos. I've got more 20x30 and 28x36 prints on my walls now than at any other time in my life, many shot on a 6MP Pentax *istD, and the rest on a 10MP Pentax K10D. The more than match the quality I used to get out a couple of Minoltas--and the damned autofocus actually works, which is more than I could ever say for one of my Minoltas.
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IMHO, that's not the seminal question. 'Most' films are pretty crappy in terms of color, contrast, and resolution.
The seminal question is what quality CAN be obtained via reasonable means.

What film were you using?
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wrote:

Various films, including K64. All this vewrbiage about transparency color brilliance and small grain is true, but the only way to make it visible at a reasonable size is to have the slide run through to produce a dye transfer print, IIRC. Even then, it doesn't match the look of the original, and an 11x14 dye transfer print costs well up in the hundreds of bucks range, probably about half as much as I paid for my Epson 1800 printer--that only gives a top of 13x19, but does some wondrous things with 11x14. Affordability is another reason for the success of digital: My photos have improved more in the past decade than in something like 45 years of shooting before, for a simple reason: Neither I nor my clients had to front the costs for testing new films, different lighting set ups, different filter effects and so on. Now, I can test a camera, and get used to it, by shooting 500 frames, if I feel it necessary. Before, that would have cost a fortune, or at least the film and processing costs on 14 rolls. Today, the cost is my time (which was a cost anyway), plus wear and tear on the camera (which was there anyway).
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Charlie Self wrote:

I believe Kodak has discontinued dye transfer materials production. There may be a few people still doing it with old stock, I dunno, but it is pretty much the case the dye transfer is more-or-less done and dead.
The color fidelity of K25/64 is inarguable, but it's pretty much theoretical. You have to magnify and print it or project it for others to see the image. At that point, a good many of the Kodachrome virtues vanish, blemished by the magnification process. I long ago gave up transparencies for this reason. In practical use, C-41/RA-4 gave just as good/better results for a lot less time/aggravation/cost. For me, this was never much of an issue since I never much cared for color as an expressive medium. But I have colleagues that shoot (did shoot) a LOT of color and they too left the transparencies long ago (well, except for the pros using E-6 as preferred by some magazines and other publications).

I do not shoot color for anything other than snapshots, but it is interesting to me that the current crop of Epson and HP inks with modern inkjet papers are now *more* archival than the best RA-4 papers ever were. This is one area where digital is clearly better (at last) than traditional chemical color prints.

Not to mention that fact that you control your own workflow. One of the great frustrations of color for me was the large variability in color balance from lab to lab. Even the best pro labs I worked with had a considerable variation in what they thought a neutral balance should be. With digital color, I can calibrate my workflow from beginning to end to give me consistent results. This is so satisfying that - for the first time in decades - I am being drawn back into shooting color for creative work.
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